Canberra’s ship of fools now sailing world’s oceans

It was the usual press gallery echo chamber on the weekend. Leading us off was a Paul Kelly furiously ingratiating himself with the coming Labor Government:

This is the week the zeitgeist of the nation turned against an embattled Coalition. The government has lost control of the parliament, cannot maintain discipline on its own side, confronts an increasingly hostile public and is besieged by a series of causes for which it has no answer — a stronger role for women, gay rights and firmer climate change action.

Laura Tingle says the same thing at the AFR:

…the past week really has entrenched the sense of a new low being reached. For people outside of Canberra, it is so often the images that are the powerful things in a week like this: the Prime Minister having a press conference in one part of the building, trying to get the agenda back on track, while one of his backbenchers is a few hundred metres away in the House of Representatives announcing she is going to the crossbench.

Peter Hartcher the same at Domain:

After hearing her public complaints of being bullied and intimidated, Scott Morrison invited the Liberal senator Lucy Gichuhi to his office in Parliament House. The newly installed Prime Minister asked her to recount her story.

“I told him everything,” Gichuhi recalls. “After the leadership spill, I was ready to say everything that had happened. I saw adult women crying, even ministers. It was very, very tense. Scott said, ‘Leave it with me’. They were the last words as I left him.”

That was three months ago. What has she heard back? “Nothing,” she tells me. “I haven’t heard anything back.”

Reactive, gas-lighting, tactical instead of strategic. These are all of the hallmarks not just of the Liberal Party but the press gallery that’s supposed to cover it. After the progressive Malcolm Turnbull ran badly behind in dozens of Newspolls then got the chop for it, the Liberal Party is dying of not being “progressive” enough?

Why? The Victorian election. Nobody stops to wonder if the Victorian election can be extrapolated nationally. Whether the expectations in the polity are the same for a federal government. Nor whether the failure to address social equity is the driver of a community anger that has claimed six prime ministers in seven years, many of whom were progressive!

It is not. And the misdirection of the nation’s capital – pollies and media both – is only going to make it worse because the real underpinning of the anger is economic and woefully unaddressed. While Canberra fiddles with social policy, Australian household’s material living standards are burning:

None of this is to say that progressive policy is not important. Let’s put aside climate change given it is an issue of science and economics pure and simple, neither progressive nor conservative. It’s almost as stupid to have to repeat that women, gay and other rights are central to our liberal democracy. Of course they are, move on.

What they are not is the central concern of any federal government. Not even in today’s horribly fragmented media unreality. The national government’s responsibilities are national living standards, broader economic equity and international relations from peace to defence. The more that these bedrock truths are ignored, the angrier the polity will get.

This is not new. MB has been arguing the same since 2011. We’ve watched PMs come and go and given each the same advice, to be honest about the economic challenges and offer a long term plan to fix them. Every time we have been ignored and, as polls sank, each and every PM defaulted to ideology and culture wars, making the disconnect from the polity worse.

There are three forces preventing federal politics from addressing Australia’s most fundamental political economy challenge:

  • pollies are trapped by corrupt advice from Treasury’s and RBA’s extremist support of the mass immigration growth model. It can’t fix the household income recession given it is its primary cause;
  • the corporate growth lobby of banks, retail and realty love the model because it inflates their economic rents and they campaign for it at every turn;
  • the press refuses to discuss it objectively in part because its own progressives are paralysed by fears of racism and thus act as the useful idiots of the corporate sector, or they just do it because the media is itself now a corporate rent-seeker in the model.

Yet unless and until the discussion shifts away from issues of social superstructure and back towards the forces of production at the base, no matter how progressive we get – enshrining rights for the long oppressed cockroach before long – we can look forward to growing community rage, more rapid fire PMs and endless sinking governments.

Not to mention international humiliation, via the AFR:

[at the] G20 in Argentina over the weekend, it was clear that Australia was struggling to be taken seriously. Donald Trump, not one for diplomatic niceties, asked Morrison directly what had happened to Malcolm Turnbull…Germany’s Angela Merkel, who hosted Turnbull in Berlin in April, was most unsubtle, if not downright rude…Theresa May…quizzed Morrison during their meeting over his controversial plan to move Australia’s Israeli embassy…There was no meeting with China’s Xi Jinping…

In a G20 leaders guide published by the Buenos Aires Times, the volatility of Australia’s political system was compared to that of Italy and South Africa.

Canberra’s ship of fools is now sailing the world’s oceans.

David Llewellyn-Smith
Latest posts by David Llewellyn-Smith (see all)


    • ErmingtonPlumbingMEMBER

      Hey Harry did you receive my reply to your question in the Labor/immigration thread in your inbox?
      The whole thread was removed!

      • The Traveling Wilbur

        You wuz whytey-listed EP!

        Somewhere I reckon there’s a mod gleefully rubbing hands together, Vampyre Squid style, hoping we all learn a bit of several lessons every time this happens. Can’t say I blame it for that. But it is somewhat childish (the “whyte” thing), and *very* annoying when perfectly well-toned posts go to waiting for moderation just because of words like that appearing in them.

        Oh. Hang on. We can hardly complain on those grounds can we? Carry on as usual please.

      • ErmingtonPlumbingMEMBER

        Thing is Wilbur,…it was nothing like what your suggesting.
        Harry simply asked me to “justify” my “Love” for Labor.
        And my reply simply explained that I am bitterly disapointed with the direction my party holds on several issues and have no love for the leadership of the party, but rather feel Love and Solidarity with the kind of People in the Party, Ben Chiefly was talking about in his light on the hill speech and then posted the relvant excerpt from that speech.

        Harrys Question was just after 12.30am and my reply was just after 5am with no “your post awaits moderation” gavin had replied also and later phil at around 6am.
        Half an hour after that, a thread of 6 or 7 posts were completely removed, not because of abusive content or swearing or “trigger words” but rather, in my view, because it didn’t fit in with the Author of the articles intention to demonize all things labour,…or at least guide the comentatiate that way.
        Is this so MacB can advertise their investment products to boomers on Sydneys Two gee bee.?
        Or is L Van Os radio gig reliant on narrative controll at MacB?
        WTF is going on? having such a benign thread censored?
        I thought MB was an open forum.

      • ErmingtonPlumbingMEMBER

        I believe LVO didn’t like the pro labor tone of this excerpt and deleated it simply to controll the narrative direction of the supposed “open” comments section to his article,

        Please correct me if am wrong.

        “Because of the turn of fortune’s wheel your Premier (Mr McGirr) and I have gained some prominence in the Labor movement. But the strength of the movement cannot come from us. We may make plans and pass legislation to help and direct the economy of the country. But the job of getting the things the people of the country want comes from the roots of the Labor movement – the people who support it.

        When I sat at a Labor meeting in the country with only ten or fifteen men there, I found a man sitting beside me who had been working in the Labor movement for 54 years. I have no doubt that many of you have been doing the same, not hoping for any advantage from the movement, not hoping for any personal gain, but because you believe in a movement that has been built up to bring better conditions to the people. Therefore, the success of the Labor Party at the next elections depends entirely, as it always has done, on the people who work.

        I try to think of the Labor movement, not as putting an extra sixpence into somebody’s pocket, or making somebody Prime Minister or Premier, but as a movement bringing something better to the people, better standards of living, greater happiness to the mass of the people. We have a great objective – the light on the hill – which we aim to reach by working the betterment of mankind not only here but anywhere we may give a helping hand. If it were not for that, the Labor movement would not be worth fighting for.

        If the movement can make someone more comfortable, give to some father or mother a greater feeling of security for their children, a feeling that if a depression comes there will be work, that the government is striving its hardest to do its best, then the Labor movement will be completely justified.”

  1. Ship of tools.

    The ALP has cottoned on to a strategy of being the least worst, allowing the LNP to self destruct whilst they remain a ‘small target’. Next it’s the turn of the ALP to self destruct allowing the LNP to become the next least worst smelling political turd in the baby pool. This race to the plug hole will go on until social disintegration bites.

    The entire system is stuffed because our democratic institutions are at crisis point and we have no national direction.

    In a few months we will depend upon the charisma and vision of one Bill ‘the robot’ Shorten to deliver neoliberal-lite Mark II. After a brief honeymoon the ALP will be full tilt on the mass immigration and negatively geared dog-boxes to the moon. Shorten will become as popular as a Kroger in a BLF swimming pool and without a credible political alternative the crap will really hit the fan. There is no plan B. How much mass immigration is needed for this baby to boil over? Not much more I suspect – we are almost there. As the dog-boxes stack up and the suburbs spread some genuine anger will brew and the multicultural compact will fracture.

    That Bill the union man is killing the labour movement so he can get his turn will suddenly dawn on the union movement.

    If Bill Shorten is the best the ALP can do and Scummo is the best the LNP can do, then that’s all you need to know. It’s like World Championship Wrestling moved to Canberra and took itself seriously.

    • I agree completely, however the May or later election might throw up some balance of power surprises, hopefully

    • Yes we must almost be there, everywhere I turn now I find new Australians serving me, or just as marked, they’re in the kitchen and not-new Australians are the waiting staff. and I have no idea what young people from my local school are intending to pursue for careers. I am seriously wondering whether I should encourage my progeny to attend an Australian university. Are they any fun anymore or just sort of academic airports? I thought the footage of the climate protesting kids said so much but I won’t put it into words.
      Anyway the thing is, imagine the shock if Laura Tingle or Katherine Murphy published a piece like this. There would be a meltdown. This shows the disconnect.

      • HadronCollisionMEMBER

        I thought the footage of the climate protesting kids said so much but I won’t put it into words.

        try putting it into words, if you please

      • darklydrawlMEMBER

        Hadron – I cannot speak for MC, but what impressed me with the student climate change rally was they showed up in considerable numbers.

        Regardless of your position on climate change (and I am firmly in the evidence / science camp) it was the first time in decades I had seen students actually get their protest mojo together, rather than just posting a ‘like’ or comment on social media and going back into their burrows.

        It reminded me of the Vietnam rallies or the 70’s or the Anti-Nukes of the 80’s. The last big social protest was probably the Gulf War Mk I back in the early 2000’s although the SSM thing seemed to have stirred the beast as well.

        The thing is history will prove these kids correct. Whils the crowd is not always right – in the earlier protest example I provided the people were correct. and did the right thing despite the Government of the day telling them they were traitors.

        It IS their future we are playing with and they seemed to have finally woken up from their slumber. I wish them well and will stand with them, desite being old enough to be their parent.

    • “because our democratic institutions are at crisis point ”
      I disagree, our democratic institutions are the same as they ever were, it’s just a lot harder to wallpaper over the cracks as living standards are falling than it is when a rising tide is lifting all boats, as they say.
      When peoples living standards are rising they are generally contented, even if the wealthy are increasing at a greater rate. A falling living standard on the other hand is a guarantee of political instability.

      • Yeah H&Hs, every day I hear how the ALP has turned its back on neoliberalism, mass immigration and has a plan for a productive (real) economy that involves high end manufacturing and innovation rather than new negatively geared dog boxes. You just can’t shut Bill up about it. His admission that the Hawke-Keating reforms began (to a great degree) a rot that has lead to the current Royal Commission was breathtakingly honest (e.g Banking deregulation etc). As for the admission that superannuation is a parasite’s breakfast enabled by a weak kneed ALP who caved in the big end of town for years – terrific. Their announcement of a return to ALP values that support workers was touching and the policy of a taxation system that encourages investment in high value innovation by a massive investment in science to replace financial speculation and increasing taxation on corporate criminals – well, wow. And its promise to reverse the OS education scams had me rolling in the aisles. Added to the comprehensive plan to make the public service independent again and a new commitment to participatory democracy….

        Oh, wait…well, maybe not so much hey?

        A bit of tweaking here and there and no mea culpas or historical honesty – and I really don’t know if we have read the same policy documents? What I see is a exposé of the worst excess and nutbag Right without a really big vision to come back to the centre. This current government has self destructed and the ALP will inherit the ashes without a major reform agenda and vision to re-boot Australia. There is little sign that the reforms are comprehensive enough to reform the rot that goes to the heart of the political class and revolving door that sees the ALP “greats” of Hawke and Keating also end up in he pockets of the Banks and China.

      • Clive, some of what you say is true, and to paraphrase Churchill, the ALP is the worst party, except for all the others, so we still have to vote for them.

  2. The LNP just wants to drown in the blood of coups:

    The federal Liberal party has no plans to change its rules to prevent further leadership spills, Prime Minister Scott Morrison says.

    Former Labor prime minister Kevin Rudd changed his party’s rule in 2013 to stop coups, allowing a say by grassroots party members, but despite his predecessor’s recent ousting Mr Morrison maintains faith in the established system where only federal MPs pick the leader.


  3. Our interim PM looked definitely out of his depth in Argentina. His suit hangs off his large frame like a badly fitting cloak, and his smile looks worn out. Shows just how much Australia matters to these cs

    • Ronin8317MEMBER

      What’s the point of talking to a temporary place holder PM who don’t even have the number to pass bills?

      • He’ll get one bill passed. PM Shorten. Not ready to be a good government but I hope they grow into it. Am no fan of ALP but the country needs a good government whatever its stripe.

  4. “The purpose of studying economics is not to acquire a set of ready-made answers to economic questions, but to learn how to avoid being deceived by economists.” ― Joan Robinson

    My question is … if both parties are captured by the same dominate economics is it not just window dressing to take their eyes off the ball ….

  5. michael francis

    The question is,by the time Canberra and the media wake up to the problems that confound this country, how many more millions of immigrants will flood onto our shores to ruin our living standards.

    • Oh they know for sure, they’re just playing dumb. It’s their job to try and make sure Average Joe does NOT know. Politicians and the MSM don’t work for us, they work for multinational oligarchs and aim to implement the ideology of said oligarchs: neoliberalism.

      • HadronCollisionMEMBER

        I feel delicious avo on toast has been unfairly memed by hipsters paying $20 for avo on toast.

        Or better, half an avo bit of salt and pepper and vinegar straight out of the skin

  6. The old labels left/right, progressive/conservative have lost meaning but the morons in Canberra try to keep playing the same old game.

  7. Hill Billy 55MEMBER

    All the above needs a good dose of independent thinking. This will ensure that the next parliament is more representative of the Australian people and listens to them. One thing that both ALP and LNP agree on is that independents are a bad thing. Makes sense that they will probably be the saving grace of the polity.

  8. I get your point but comparing certain movements to gain legal recognition as being the same as lifting oppression from cockroaches is probably counter productive.